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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/776

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the field, take care of the other children, and smoke. All this must be done early for it will not be many years before a purchaser will come for her; and at ten or twelve years of age she will probably be called upon to follow a stranger. Notwithstanding the early marriages, the number of children seldom exceeds three, and the woman is a matron at twenty. When she has passed her bloom she is relegated to the capacity of a servant, and her husband gets another, younger wife. Thus men of means often take one or two new women every year. The women and their children live in separate houses, which are not shared by the husband. He lives, too, in a house of his own, in the midst of the women's houses, which are sometimes quite numerous. King Bell has a hundred and twenty wives. The intercourse between mother and child is very different from what it is with us, and the Cameroons mother is more sparing in her caresses than her white sisters. Kissing has no place among them, but they have their own peculiar ways of fondling and petting, which perhaps represent as much affection as the more demonstrative proceedings of Europeans.

So long as they are young and handsome the Cameroons women pay great attention to their toilet. The petticoat, which reaches down from the hips to the ankles, must be thoroughly smooth and clean, and the apron, which is worn under it, is as spotless as the under-clothing of a European lady. Their hair is woven by professional hair-dressers into braids of various shapes, without grease and usually without ornaments, although a woman is occasionally found who wears a string of beads around her head. The dressing usually lasts for a week, and is bound up at night in a cloth for protection. It is also a part of the hair-dresser's business, which is carried on in the street, to pull out the lady's eyelashes. A string of pearls or some other ornament of European origin is worn around the neck. The shoulders, breast, and belly are covered with ornamental tattooing in red and blue, apparently centering at the navel. Elaborate ruffles of ivory or metallic rings are worn upon the wrists and ankles.

The principal musical instrument is the drum, or climbi, which is made from a hollowed log. It has a slot along the direction of its length, which is unevenly divided by a bridge left across it, on which the drumstick is beat to produce different tones. The music is at first monotonous enough to the ear, and it is hard to realize that the instrument is available as a telegraph. Yet this is its principal use. The Cameroons man drums out every event that appears worth communicating. The next man takes it up and drums it on, and in this way news is spread speedily from one village to another. A regular drum-language has been worked out, which the Cameroons man can imitate with his mouth or beat